This lead my wedding buddies, Liz and Laura, and I to a shop in Oakland whose name I can't remember and to Flair Bridal in San Francisco.
You would think that the fact that I can't remember the name of the first shop means that the experience was not memorable. In reality, I tried to block it out. This was by far the worst experience I've ever had trying on bridal gowns (and remember, I've literally been to dozens of shops). First of all, the shop was in downtown Oakland which basically screams gang rape at all who enter. Goodbye any hope for ambiance. But that would have been OK if the shop itself hadn't sucked so much. At first, I was just annoyed that they didn't have any of the Mary's dresses I wanted to try on...including some that they advertised. Then we got served. The sales lady lost our appointment and was awfully rude about it, and while we did end up trying on a few dresses, the OWNER walked in in the middle of our appointment and said that we were only allowed to try on four dresses and told us to leave! At that point, we were only too happy to oblige.
Flair was a MUCH better experience. The sales lady was very nice to us, and all three of us got to try on dresses that we liked. In fact, all three of us tried on and liked this dress:
At the time, that was the IT dress for Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings. But my favorite dress of the day was this one:
This dress taught me to love pick-ups. It was the first one I had seen in which the pick-ups looked even and elegant instead of something that needed to be smoothed out. Also, I loved that it had a short train that could easily be hidden in the skirt. At the time, this was one of the best dresses I had tried on, and quality-wise, it probably still is. However, I would never pay $3,000 for it, and since this trip, I have found many, many dresses that I like better. Nonetheless, this dress helped me see that pick-ups worked really well for the princessy look and that when they are done well, they look awesome on me.
Oddly enough, the one thing that these shops had in common is what helped me on my dress search the most. At this point, I had only visited shops in metropolitan areas which meant small spaces without a lot of variety. Even though I had really good experiences at Kate's Kouture and at Flair, I knew I wanted to go somewhere that could offer me lots and lots of choices because let's be honest, I am exceptionally picky. This lead me to that wonderful place that encompassed all of the best shopping experiences I have had: the suburbs. Stay tuned for the best shops I've visited in the Bay Area.
But for now, do you have any dress shopping horror stories? Where have you had the best luck finding dresses?